Four candidates – I know two of them. The new Presiding Bishop will be elected by the House of Bishops for a nine year term and the appointment is ratified by he House of Deputies. So we got to sit in yesterday to listen to the candidates being put through their paces in front of the House of Deputies.
There is plenty here to keep those who like revising our Canon 4 occupied. For example, the presentations began with a short video about themselves prepared by each candidate – the brief being to do it on an IPhone. It all went on for a long time and people obviously wanted us to realise how important it was and how good it was as a process.
I think that the challenge in any process like this is to find a way in a candidate can set out a coherent vision for the future of their church. That means understanding history and context. It means sharing a vision which challenges but which also builds hope and confidence. It means showing how the church as an institution can be aligned with that vision. It means connecting all that back into a picture of Christ-centred faith which touches hearts.
It takes time to do that. And the major problem yesterday was that this lengthy process didn’t give the candidates the time they needed. There is a clear move for change here. A period of sharp conflict is coming to an end. The church is in decline and there is a missional challenge. America is a troubled place – racially and economically – and the church needs to respond to that. We need to know how TEC can play a creative role in the reconciliation of the Anglican Communion. Plenty to talk about
It’s going to take a special person to provide that kind of leadership. They are going to lock the bishops in the Cathedral and not let them out until they have an answer which has been ratified by the House of Deputies